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ANCHORAGE - Investigators on Monday navigated a treacherous gorge that holds the remains of a plane crash that killed two people on the western edge of Denali National Park and Preserve last week.
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The floatplane was headed from the community of Galena on the Yukon River to Merrill Field in Anchorage when it crashed into a mountain in the Alaska Range, killing 38-year-old pilot Alex Stack and his passenger, Aric Beane, 33, both of Anchorage, according to Alaska State Troopers.
The DeHavilland Beaver was flying through Mystic Pass on the western border of Denali National Park on Friday, said Joette Storm, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. The crash occurred several miles southwest of Mystic Pass.
The plane was reported overdue on Saturday and sighted by Civil Air Patrol officials on Sunday.
The impact sheared the floats off the plane, which burst into flames and slid down the mountain into a gorge that is difficult to access, Storm and other officials said. They said a flight plan was not filed.
The crash site is in a very rugged area of the park, with steep and narrow river drainages.
Specific weather conditions in the area that day are unknown, officials said, however, it was dicey enough to cause a companion aircraft to turn around.
A Cessna 185 flying in tandem with the downed aircraft opted for a different route because of rough weather in the upper section of west fork of the Yentna River drainage, according to chief park ranger Peter Armington.
Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were assessing the crash site on Monday with a park service ranger and planned to interview the pilot of the second plane, Armington said.
The bodies of the two men were recovered and will be transferred to the state medical examiner in Anchorage, said park ranger Gordy Kito.
No one at the NTSB was in the office to comment, said investigator Scott Erickson.